This is the poem that is presented immediately after the table of contents in the book. I like to start the year off with a handout of the poem. We read the poem as a class 2 times, then the students discuss their guesses.

Once we come to the conclusion that it is “Habits,” I have the students list three positive habits in the left column and three negative habits in the right column. Before listing the habits, I kid “Do not list your cocaine habit if you do not want to share with the class.”

This is to let the students know that some of the topics in the class may be personal in nature. Students only need to share topics they are comfortable sharing. This poem and work sheet serve as the starting point for a discussion on how habits shape who we are.

Who Am I?

I am your constant companion. I am
your greatest helper or heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down
to failure. I am completely at your command.
Half the things I do you might as well
turn over to me and I will be able to do
them quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed – you must merely
be firm with me. Show me exactly how you
want something done and after a few
lessons I will do it automatically. I am the
servant of all great individuals and, alas, of
all failures as well. Those who are great, I
have made great. Those who are failures,
I have made failures.

I am not a machine, though I work
with all the precision of a machine plus
the intelligence of a human. You may run
me for profit or run me for ruin – it
makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me,
and I will place the world at your feet. Be
easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

3 guesses





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